Heartfelt Intervention

The number of airmen choosing to take their own lives has risen 27 percent—from 56 suicides this time last year to 71 today, CMSAF James Roy said. “We’ve got to get after this suicide piece,” he said at AFA’s Air & Space Convention Wednesday. Although many airmen have served combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Roy said the service has not been able to make a direct correlation between those airmen who serve outside the wire and those who commit suicide. Instead, strained relationships and financial hardships seem to be the two biggest factors associated with suicides in the Air Force. That means leaders have to work closely with airmen and their families and educate airmen on ways to live within their means, Roy said. “The key is to give them the tools [to combat suicide] before they need them,” Roy said. He added: “It can’t be just another program. It has to be heartfelt and it has to go all the way through an airmen’s career.”